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The Air Force and Lockheed Martin have completed the process of fueling the first Space-Based Infrared System (Sbirs) satellite, which is expected to launch May 6.
About 5,000 lb. of fuel was added to the satellite, which is based on Lockheed Martin’s A2100 design. The process took place April 8-11, says Jeff Smith, who oversees the program for the company.
The next milestone slated for April 22 is to encapsulate the satellite, which is called GEO-1 because it will be the first Sbirs design to operate from geosynchronous orbit. Finally, it is scheduled for mating to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launcher April 25. It will be lofted from Cape Canaveral in Florida.
Col. Roger Teague, Sbirs program manager for the Air Force, says that satellite processing has been executed “very pristinely [and] very crisply,” and about four days of margin are in the schedule.
Sbirs, a $15.1 billion program to develop a new constellation of infrared missile warning spacecraft, has been underway for about 15 years and suffered several technical and budget setbacks. However, Teague emphasized that hard work repairing the relationship between the Air Force and Lockheed Martin is paying off. “The team could have given up at any point along the way … but they didn’t,” said April 12 during a pre-launch press conference at the National Space Symposium here. “We worked in partnership.”
Baseline integration testing has been completed on GEO-2, and it is being readied for environmental testing. Air Force officials expect to have GEO-2 ready for launch in about one year.
Editor: read Amy's Sbirs article from this week's Aviation Week & Space Technology: USAF Prepares For First Sbirs GEO Launch
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